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The Hobby Shack => Creative Writing => Topic started by: Neumatic on December 08, 2012, 05:05:46 pm

Title: Christmas Movie Cliche thread
Post by: Neumatic on December 08, 2012, 05:05:46 pm
Okay, with the season upon us, I thought it only appropriate for a thread devoted to X-mas and holiday movies.

For one thing, if the story is magical in any way, the existence of Christmas ITSELF will be in jeopardy.  As if we couldn't continue well enough on our own.  Hogfather actually gave this some meaning which I quite liked, but you can really only get away with that one ONCE.

Usually in a Christmas movie, there's usually no consideration for other holidays, and unless its' strictly Christian, no mention of Christ as being the accepted origin of the holiday (instead of the Fonzie of it, having co-opted the celebration from the Pagans, but that's another issue).  it's like Christmas is a holiday severed from the religious institution, which it kind of is, to permit more people to spend money at that time of year.

I think the non-holiday movies they release on Christmas deserve some mention too, usually big four-quadrant unrisky pictures that whole families can be dragged out to see (like the upcoming "Parental Guidance") just so they can drag grandma and the cousins to see something so they get two hours of silence and a subject of conversation instead of how sick of each other they all are.
Title: Re: Christmas Movie Cliche thread
Post by: Chiprocks1 on December 08, 2012, 05:26:53 pm
Okay then, I say lets break down some of the bigger Christmas Themed movies out there, along with some of your favorites. No discussion of this 'Genre' is complete unless these movies are included:

Home Alone
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
It's A Wonderful Life

And the Granddaddy of them all....

A Christmas Story

I also think that movies that actually blend the other genre's with the Xmas theme should be included, because it is after all thinking outside of the box:

A Nightmare Before Christmas

Honorable Mention:

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Yes, this is a Thanksgiving themed movie, but it fits in nicely with Xmas and family)
Title: Re: Christmas Movie Cliche thread
Post by: Neumatic on December 08, 2012, 08:11:32 pm
You know, for the longest time (ever since I first heard about it), I wanted to see the three-hour cut of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.  I love that flick.  Then I read the script and I realized how much bad stuff they had to cut out.  A lot of John Candy's dialogue got dropped at some point, and it really made all the difference in the world between him coming off as the lovable doof he does in the flick or being the guy Neil felt he was for the longest time.  He's really not endearing on the page.

Home Alone, holy cow, I always dug those first two films (though, like Star Trek, I took a couple years off to re-build my affection for them), and those are flicks I think could probably stand a re-make today.  And not those crummy Disney channel spin-off straight-to-TV whatevers, I'm talking about going back to the roots of this kind of jerk kid who feels totally left out and alone because of this giant family, a dependent who becomes totally independent and learns to fend for himself... there's a lot of emotional stuff at the core that's still good that you could rebuild off of... and it's all capped with zany looney tunes-style pranks and physical violence at the end (I do feel that maybe we should have been brought up to that a little bit).  I did dislike all the bird lady stuff in the sequel, though.

Home Alone did something I quite liked which was make Christmas feel grand and royal.  In the commentary track they mentioned flicks like "Great Expectations" and Dickens and gave this sort of old England regency, taste, and pomp to all the pure Christmas stuff.  It's like a Serif font.  A bit of Victorian Christmas ideal in the modern age, and I think because I saw that at such an early age (when I looked just LIKE the kid in the movie), that's what I thought Christmas should look like.

Can I be honest and say "A Christmas Story" isn't really a fave of mine.  I've seen it a zillion times but, like Elf, I feel like I'm slightly left out of the joke that everyone else is in on.  I will say that the newly-made cash-grab sequel looks terrible, and I'm in the same pain every other fan is about it.

I have no desire to see it, but it's got to be better than Randy Quaid and family stuck on a desert island in Christmas Vacation 2, right?
Title: Re: Christmas Movie Cliche thread
Post by: Chiprocks1 on December 08, 2012, 08:24:36 pm
Well, for me A Christmas Story actually means more to me than the rest of society. Why? Because I saw the movie in the theater the first week it came out. I got it immediately. This is way before it became "fashionable" to like it because they started running it 24 hours straight on TBS. Now everyone loves it? Why? Where were all these people when it came out? If anyone has a right to hate the movie now because it's in 'vogue', it's me. I hate being part of a pack mentality. Usually when something is loved....I hate it. When something is ignored and hated, it's my cup of tea. Having said that, I still can't find fault with the movie at all, even if I have issues with everyone that claims to have been a fan of the movie since it came out.

The above rant is my version of a Christmas scrooge.
Title: Re: Christmas Movie Cliche thread
Post by: Chiprocks1 on December 08, 2012, 08:34:56 pm
Some cliche scenes that seems to appear in most Xmas Flicks in one way or another....

The Big Turkey Dinner - Duh! Of course you have to have the family dinner. It's what the entire movie is usually buidling toward or centered around, which leads to....

The Wacky Relative - Be it a distant cousin or a bullying brother, whoever the family member it turns out to be, he or she is usually the source of the comedic moments that always gets the main character into trouble, one way or another.
Title: Re: Christmas Movie Cliche thread
Post by: Neumatic on December 08, 2012, 09:39:19 pm
Well, Christmas Story and It's A Wonderful Life have that in common, they were both big bombs at the box office... or at least not very popular.  The only reason Wonderful Life became the mainstay is because some desk clerk forgot to renew the copyright (which he only had to do once every 28 years) and so it lapsed into the public domain, and since it took place at Christmas (at the end at least), all the TV stations treated it like a Christmas movie.  It got played all the time so naturally everyone thought that was because it was so good, and there you go.  I do like the movie though.

Funny enough, a couple years ago I met this duo who were writing a sequel to Wonderful Life, they had gotten the necessary rights  and even met the surviving crew and cast members.  The first thing I asked them was if George ever left the town because he kept going on about that the entire movie.  They said I was the first person who asked that question.  We swapped cards and I asked if I could take a look at the script and they said sure and I never heard from them again.  Take from that what you will.

My family isn't big on Turkey so we don't have Turkey dinner.  We also don't do the big family meeting, so I can't say how real or unreal that cliche is.  My dad and stepmom have a HUGE family, 41 people, which I'm curious about but not enough to GO there for it.  Too small and too few bathrooms.  But that's too much for any piece of literature.  But that seems more realistic than what we see in the flicks.  And I'm sure I'm the wacky relative of the group.   Or at least the unpredictable one.
Title: Re: Christmas Movie Cliche thread
Post by: Mac on December 09, 2012, 08:47:34 am
It's funny how we perceive those things that meant something to us and how that developed. A guess a majority of them would be as a kid watching something for first time. Not to be contrary, but Christmas Story did nothing for me. The Home Alone movies just made me roll my eyes. I never bought into MaCaulay Culkin's acting, looks or the story. Not trying to be cynical. Those movies just never did anything for me. I know... Un-American.

For years, my first wife made a tradition of watching It's a Wonderful Life while putting up the tree and decorating the house. After many years of that I've grown to ignore it.

I do like The Santa Claus, well, because I'm a huge Tim Allen fan and I thought it told a pretty cool story. Miracle on 34th Street will always be cool to me.

I think one of the biggest cliche's is the protagonist not believing... in the story, the mythology, the soul. The movie is the journey to discovery

My favorite move to watch during the holidays is Scrooged with Bill Murray. Obviously it based on the Charle's Dicken's story, but with a whole bunch of twists. But at the core is The Story Dicken's wrote about.
Title: Re: Christmas Movie Cliche thread
Post by: Neumatic on December 09, 2012, 01:10:00 pm
I LOVE Scrooged!  They tried to scare the DICKENS out of people!  It does make me wonder what other brilliance we were robbed of by Mr Mike's passing... have you ever seen his dark fairy tales on the old Saturday Night Live show in the 70s? (to me, the 70s show is a completely different beast than anything that happened anywhere else).

I will say that I never really dug Mac Culkin either, despite digging the flicks.  I knew even as a kid the acting was kind of forced, but having said that, he was wonderfully creepy on Kings.  I never knew what was going on in his head.

Totally agree on the Protag not believing, but it's not just that, he's usually the ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD who doesn't believe in whatever.  "Everyone believes in the magic of Christmas, Frank."  I suppose the inversion would be the character being the only one who believes in a cynical world, or if you want to go the Christmas Atheist route, finds a logical reason to celebrate or something along that line.

I never dug The Santa Clause, didn't like any of them, never understood the appeal, and while I'm a fan of Tim Allen, the idea of him as Santa seemed forced and unrealistic.

Did anyone else here remember the Santa Clause: The Movie flick that the Superman producers made in the 80s, with Dudley Moore as a disgruntled elf?  That is HARD to watch now, but something about the old-school effects and the murky, dark film quality that you're squinting through... that got into my mind.  And it was the first thing I'd ever seen John Lithgow in and he creeped me out for a long time since.  Maybe even until Third Rock From The Sun.  But now, he's GORGEOUS!

That movie did have the VERY heavy appearance of the street orphan, urchin, or poor kid who won't have anything this Christmas.
Title: Re: Christmas Movie Cliche thread
Post by: Mac on December 09, 2012, 01:16:43 pm
Uh, no, missed the Dudley Moore flick... apparently for the better. ;)
Title: Re: Christmas Movie Cliche thread
Post by: Neumatic on December 09, 2012, 01:19:28 pm
I don't know why I JUST now made the connection of Duldey Moore as Patch (who got his own flying Christmas car... which had a pretty funky Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade look to it) and Russell Brand as the Easter Bunny.

There's some interesting shots in the Santa Claus flick, I think those will do.